WHY READ AND STUDY PAUL’S LETTERS?

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WHY READ AND STUDY PAUL'S LETTERS?

If you want to find out more about Jesus, you can learn life-transforming things about him from the letters a man named Paul wrote in the first century. These letters are now part of the Bible. Paul is credited with explaining the teachings of Jesus to the Greco-Roman world and launching Christianity as a world religion. So his letters are one of the most widely-quoted parts of the Bible.

There's a bit of a problem, though. Many of Paul's sayings are inspiring and uplifting: "If God is for us, who can be against us?" "If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" But he makes some other statements that are highly controversial and difficult to understand. "Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission." "Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you." Because of statements like these, many people find Paul so confusing and upsetting that they refuse to read his writings.

But there's no reason to avoid Paul. The problem isn't with him. It's with the way he's usually approached. His thoughts and ideas are mostly known through individual statements that are quoted out of their original contexts. Sure, he was a master of the sound bite, a guy who could really turn a phrase. But he's got to have the chance to explain himself.

Even the most intelligent people in the world haven't been able to understand Paul piece by piece. The great philosopher John Locke was having difficulty understanding his writings. He finally recognized it was because he was approaching them "chopped and minced" into a collection of one-liners. The real way to understand them, Locke realized, was to "read a whole letter through, from one end to the other, all at once, to see what was the main

subject," and only then try to understand its individual parts. When Paul is allowed to have his say this way, his writings take on a depth and complexity that discredit the stereotypes and simplifications that often make up his popular image.

This study guide will give you the chance to read Paul's writings as the letters they truly are--personal exchanges rooted in real-life situations--and understand their overall meanings. You'll look at his first six letters, the ones he wrote while on his journeys through the Roman Empire to tell people about Jesus. You'll go through these letters faster, reading much more of them at a time. This might not be the way you're used to approaching Paul. It might require a bit of an adjustment. But you'll probably understand him in a way you never have before.

When it comes to a guy like Paul, you've got to "read big." This is your chance.

UNDERSTANDING THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

PAUL'S JOURNEY LETTERS

Also available in the Understanding the Books of the Bible series:

John Genesis Wisdom: Proverbs/Ecclesiastes/James Biblical Apocalypses: Daniel/Revelation Joshua/Judges/Ruth Luke?Acts--July 2011 Lyric Poetry: Psalms/Song of Songs/Lamentations--July 2011

Future releases:

Exodus/Leviticus/Numbers New Covenants: Deuteronomy/Hebrews

Samuel?Kings

Amos/Hosea/Micah/Isaiah Zephaniah/Nahum/Habakkuk/Jeremiah/Obadiah

Ezekiel/Haggai/Zechariah/Jonah/Joel/Malachi

Job Chronicles/Ezra/Nehemiah/Esther

Matthew Mark

Colossians/Ephesians/Philemon/Philippians/Timothy/Titus Peter/Jude/John

UNDERSTANDING THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

PAUL'S JOURNEY LETTERS

1 and 2 THESSALONIANS 1 and 2 CORINTHIANS

GALATIANS ROMANS

Christopher R. Smith

Biblica provides God's Word to people through translation, publishing and Bible engagement in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and North America. Through its worldwide reach, Biblica engages people with God's Word so that their lives are transformed through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Biblica Publishing We welcome your questions and comments.

1820 Jet Stream Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80921 USA

Understanding the Books of the Bible: Paul's Journey Letters ISBN-13: 978-1-60657-058-6

Copyright ? 2011 by Christopher R. Smith

13 12 11 / 6 5 4 3 2 1

Published in 2011 by Biblica Publishing All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION? NIV?. Copyright ? 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

A catalog record for this book is available through the Library of Congress.

CONTENTS

FOR LEADERS

How These Study Guides Are Different

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SESSION 1

1 THESSALONIANS

Experiencing 1 Thessalonians As a Whole

10

SESSION 2

Paul's Practical Instructions to the Thessalonians

14

2 THESSALONIANS

SESSION 3

Experiencing 2 Thessalonians As a Whole

20

SESSION 4

1 CORINTHIANS

Experiencing 1 Corinthians As a Whole

28

SESSION 5

Divisions in the Community of Believers

31

SESSION 6

The "Already" and the "Not Yet" Out of Balance in Corinth

36

SESSION 7

Paul's Counsel to the Corinthians about Marriage

41

SESSION 8

Paul's Counsel about Eating Food Offered to Idols

46

SESSION 9

Paul's Concerns about Two Worship Practices

50

SESSION 10

Paul's Counsel to the Corinthians about Spiritual Gifts

54

SESSION 11

Paul Defends the Resurrection and Arranges for a Collection

58

SESSION 12

2 CORINTHIANS

Experiencing 2 Corinthians As a Whole

64

SESSION 13

Can Paul's Word Be Trusted?

67

SESSION 14

Spiritual Insights from a Time of Danger and Rejection

70

SESSION 15

Organizing the Collection for the Poor

74

SESSION 16

Showdown with the "Super-Apostles"

77

SESSION 17

GALATIANS

Experiencing Galatians As a Whole

84

SESSION 18

Paul's Gospel: Received by Revelation, Confirmed by the Apostles

87

SESSION 19

Abraham: Justified by Faith Centuries before the Law Was Given

91

SESSION 20

It's Abraham's Spiritual Children Who Are Justified

96

SESSION 21

The Deeds of This Age and the Fruit of the Coming Age

100

SESSION 22

ROMANS

Experiencing Romans As a Whole

106

SESSION 23

Gentiles Don't Follow Physis and Need to Be Justified by Faith

109

SESSION 24

Jews Don't Keep the Law and Need to Be Justified by Faith

113

SESSION 25

The Stories of Abraham and Adam Illustrate Justification by Faith

117

SESSION 26

Answers to Anticipated Objections about Sin and the Law

120

SESSION 27

Why the Jews Haven't Responded to the Gospel

124

SESSION 28

Spiritual Gifts, the Fruit of the Spirit, and "Gray Areas"

129

FOR LEADERS

HOW THESE STUDY GUIDES ARE DIFFERENT

Did you know you could read and study the Bible without using any chapters or verses? The books of the Bible are real "books." They're meant to be experienced the same way other books are: as exciting, interesting works that keep you turning pages right to the end and then make you want to go back and savor each part. The Understanding the Books of the Bible series of study guides will help you do that with the Bible.

While you can use these guides with any version or translation, they're especially designed to be used with The Books of The Bible, an edition of the Scriptures from Biblica that takes out the chapter and verse numbers and presents the biblical books in their natural form. Here's what people are saying about reading the Bible this way:

I love it. I find myself understanding Scripture in a new way, with a fresh lens, and I feel spiritually refreshed as a result. I learn much more through stories being told, and with this new format, I feel the truth of the story come alive for me. Reading Scripture this way flows beautifully. I don't miss the chapter and verse numbers. I like them gone. They got in the way.

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